Of the approximately 350 metro markets nationwide, 59 returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI), released this week. This represents a net gain of 11 metros year over year.
Baton Rouge, La., continues to top the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.42—or 42 percent better than its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, Texas, as well as San Jose, Calif. and Harrisburg, Pa.—all of whose LMI scores indicate that their market activity now exceeds previous norms.
Smaller metros showing recovery continue to be dominated by the middle of the country experiencing an energy boom. Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, with their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Bismarck, N.D.; Casper, Wyo.; and Grand Forks, N.D., respectively.
“I think the big news here is that regions outside of the energy states continue to gain ground,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “It’s a promising sign to see areas like Los Angeles and San Jose joining the top ten largest MSAs showing a recovery. We still expect 2014 to be a strong year for housing and to aid in the overall economic recovery. The job market continues to mend and with that we will see a steady release of pent up demand of buyers.”